Students and parents explore opportunities
The line to enter was so long on Tuesday evening that one would have thought Black Friday had come a month early. The crowd of people weren’t waiting to catch a deal on a large, flat screen TV or a new PlayStation, however. They simply wanted to get inside for a different type of gift: this year’s Explore Arlington ISD.
Held at the Dan Dipert Career and Technical Center, the hour-long annual event showcased the district’s application and non-application programs offered from pre-K-12. There, representatives from elementary and junior high academies, P-TECH programs and early college high schools helped moms and dads make decisions about where to place their children on the best path to academic and career readiness. Whether their scholar’s future is in STEM, leadership, fine arts or a different passion, families had plenty to choose to learn about.
Bruce and Jessica Lightell happily withstood the long line because of the aspirations of their son Giovanni Lightell, an eighth grader at Workman Junior High School. The 13-year-old is striving to become a real estate agent, having gained knowledge and hands-on experience with a family friend who owns a realty company. Giovanni, a student-athlete, asked his parents to take him so he could explore programs for business and finance management.
“We want to support him,” Jessica said. “It’s not about him doing what we want him to do.”
Bruce agreed. “You have to play to your children’s strengths, and their passions,” he said. “If they are passionate about something, they will excel in it.”
A grand affair
More than 1,000 people registered for the event. Arlington ISD superintendent Dr. Marcelo Cavazos was thrilled about the turnout, saying it gave him “a sense that there is so much desire to have these opportunities.”
“Students and their parents – they see these opportunities as something that can actually help them realize their dreams,” Cavazos said.
Reflecting on a conversation that he had with a sixth grader earlier at the event, Cavazos said that it is never too early for students and their parents to start planning together.
“When they are at the age that they can apply, we want them to be ready … A lot of this is preparation for the future, for their career and college life,” he said.
Explore Arlington ISD is especially “critical,” Cavazos said, because it allows families to have face-to-face contact with representatives of the varied programs.
“There is nothing like speaking directly to the principals or teachers and/or staff that work with these specialized programs – or students who are in these programs. They can ask questions and get those answers,” Cavazos said.
A wide variety
This year’s event featured a small STEM play area for the early learners in attendance as well as a vast array of programs, including public safety, culinary arts, automotive repair, cybersecurity, performing arts and much more. There was something for everybody.
Randy and Stacy Matuza responded to an email that advertised the event, knowing that many options would be made available for their son, Rylan. A talented artist and sculptor, Rylan – an eighth grader at Young Junior High School – expressed interest in programs like graphic design and architecture. He has even contemplated venturing into culinary arts.
“He’s really creative. He does a lot of stuff on his own. He’s self-taught,” Stacy said, while hoping to help Rylan narrow his interests.
Lisa Pearson, who attended the event with her 13-year-old daughter Jurnee Roberson, is attempting to do the same. The eighth grader at Shackelford has considered both cybersecurity and cosmetology. Regardless of the path the youngster takes, Pearson remains optimistic because of Arlington ISD’s offerings.
Because the event was free and included programs that enable students to obtain an associate degree while still in high school, Pearson said attending the event “was a no-brainer for me!”
Does a specialized program sound right for your child? You can find out more information and apply today by visiting our specialized programs page.
Watch the Facebook live from the event here.